For Akhilesh, Mulayam’s actions and words remain the biggest hurdle in UP polls

By Faisal Fareed,

Chief Minister and National President of Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav summed up his feelings during a rally in Etah district on Monday. His remark—Never knew that the battle for the chair and CM will turn so dangerous—described the prevailing situation in SP.

Support TwoCircles

Akhilesh has many concerns. First and foremost are his father Mulayam Singh Yadav’s outbursts, which always land him in a difficult situation. As Akhilesh has embarked upon his campaigning and is still hopeful that he will persuade Mulayam to the campaign, the Yadav family is inflicting wounds on Akhilesh at a time which may affect his political career.

Is Mulayam really important for Akhilesh when he is firmly in the saddle of party and organisation?

A closer look reveals that Mulayam’s outburst will affect Akhilesh in only two ways. First, the uncertainty which Akhilesh among his voters has ended by striking an alliance with Congress will prevail and second,  Mulayam’s opposition may hamper direct chances of SP winning in areas which are its stronghold.

There are reasons to believe Akhilesh’s uneasiness after Mulayam’s clarion call to workers to file nomination against Congress candidates and contest the polls. Though Akhilesh is now national president of SP still the core voter of the party mainly Muslims identifies with Mulayam. Any appeal or direct opposition from Mulayam may adversely affect SP’s chances.

Most damaging will be SP’s chances in its stronghold as Etawah, Mainpuri, Kannauj, Etah, Farrukhabad, Ferozabad, Kasganj, Auraiyya etc. In these districts, SP holds complete control over its voters and their loyalty remained unaffected. In most of these districts, SP had won all seats in 2012 polls.

The current situation is such that SP’s MLA from Etawah, Raghuraj Shakya has resigned along with his supporters after Akhilesh denied him a ticket. Hundreds of others followed him. A new office ‘Mulayam Ke Log’ has been set up in Etawah. Shivpal Yadav even visited this office. Such offices have been set up in the past to provide shelter to supporters of any particular leader irrespective of party lines. Socialist ideologue Janeshwar Mishra had set up Lohia Ke Log office in New Delhi. Akhilesh too has a new office Janeshwar Mishra-Lohia Ke Log which is his election office. Another building houses Rajnarain Ki Jamaat office.

In Mainpuri, hundreds of SP workers led by former MLA Manik Chandra Yadav have resigned from SP. In Ferozabad, relatives of Akhilesh have turned hostile and are contesting the polls. Four-term MLA Ramveer Yadav Hariom Yadav is contesting from Jasrana while Ramprakash Yadav who is maternal grandfather of Mainpuri MP Tej Pratap is contesting as a rebel. Thus revolt is now open in Mulayam’s extended family.

In Etah district, Ashish Yadav, the present SP MLA is contesting as Lok Dal candidate. Ashish’s father is Ramesh Yadav who is Chairperson of Vidhan Parishad and is close to Mulayam. Akhilesh had denied ticket to Ashish and even targeted him saying that people leave you when you are in darkness.

There are reports that Mulayam may campaign for its supporters. Sources claimed that Mulayam has asked for name and numbers of all candidates who had contested 2007 and 2012 election on SP ticket. The purpose might be to mobilise them against SP’s alliance partner Congress.